Sophie Hériaud, journalism student at the IUT in Lannion

Sophie Hériaud, a journalism student at the IUT in Lannion, north Brittany, recently won an award for an article she wrote about refugees in Bremen, Germany whilst spending a semester there on an Erasmus exchange programme.

Sophie Hériaud, Journalism student at IUT, Lannion Illustration: Emma Burr

Sophie entered her article into the ninth year of a competition co-organised by the French newspaper Le Monde and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which awards an article written by a student in their final year of journalism.

Sophie tells us about her studies and how she came to write her award winning article…

Why did you choose to study at Université de Rennes 1?
I chose to study at Université de Rennes 1 because the IUT in Lannion runs a course in journalism.
 
Is it an international course?
No. The lessons are in French, but there’s the possibility of doing an Erasmus exchange programme and I decided to go to Germany to practice my English and German. My courses in Germany were in English.
 
Do you speak German?
Not perfectly! But I understand and I can speak a little. In fact, I have no choice at the moment because I’m doing an internship in Germany for two months and so I speak German all the time!
 
Why did you choose to go to Germany?
I chose Germany because I want to work in the media between France and Germany and I like the language and the country. It’s close to France and yet it’s completely different!
 
And why did you choose Bremen?
I chose Bremen because there is a partnership between Université de Rennes 1 and the Hochschule Bremen.
 
How did you become interested in the subject of refugees?
When I arrived in Germany at the end of February, I saw a lot of articles about refugees in Bremen and discovered a lot of associations for refugees.

In France, I’d also seen articles about Germany and about the country opening borders to refugees. So in March, I decided to write an article on the subject and I met associations, people from the city administration, such as senators, refugee students… And started putting together my article.
 
What was your reaction on hearing that you’d won the award?
I was so happy to win the award because I’d really worked hard on this article. Three months work in fact. It wasn’t easy meeting people in another country where it’s not your native language, where people only speak German or English or neither of them sometimes!
 
I’ve stayed in contact with the refugees I met, with the different associations and the people of the city’s administration. They were happy that their work would be heard about in France. It’s not the same in France as in Germany for the moment. We have a lot of problems with the integration of refugees.
 
So thanks to your article, do you think people in France will be more aware of the reality of the lives of refugees?
Yes. For example, after my article, my family and friends changed their minds about refugees. In the media in France, my feeling is that we have a bad opinion of refugees. In this article I tried to show that refugees are people like you and me and they are just trying to stay alive.
 
Will you continue to work on the subject?
With this award, I won the opportunity to go to a country of my choice for two weeks. So for the moment I’m discussing the possibility of going to Greece. I’d like to meet the refugees on the different islands there. When I was in Bremen, I met a refugee who’d arrived from Greece and I’d like to retrace his journey.
 
When will you go back to Lannion?
I’m going back in January 2017 and I’ll finish my studies in June.
 
What do you plan to do after that?
I want to become a journalist in conflict zones. That’s my plan for the moment! And in fact, I like writing but I’d like to work in television, to be behind the camera. I have a DUT specialised in television journalism and I’ve pursued this in my degree studies.
 
One last question Sophie: is there a word you particularly like in German or a word you heard a lot or which caught your attention?
Umm…yes! Kaputt! In English it means ‘broken’. “Kaputt, kaputt, kaputt”! You hear it all the time! (Laughing)
 
Read Sophie’s article here and find out more about Sophie and her work on her website.

September 2016